French Horn range off by a fifth

• Nov 28, 2012 - 10:58
  • I noticed, in writing a score today, that a French Horn part that went up to G-flat at the top of the treble clef was being flagged as beyond the range of the instrument. From my experience as a middling French Horn player back in university days, I can assure you that G-flat is well within the capabilities of any horn player to reach.
  • I looked at the instruments.xlm file, and noticed that the range of the instrument appears to have been entered a fifth too low (in other words, the transposition of the horn wasn't taken into account). Thus the lowest achievable note is listed as an octave below the bottom F on the bass clef, which would stop the heart of any French Horn player. It's definitely in the tuba range.
  • The correction (if I'm understanding the syntax of instruments.xml) is to number the PitchRanges this way, in the instrument listed simply as "Horn":
  • aPitchRange: 42-82
    pPitchRange: 36-84
  • That raises all the limits by a perfect 5th.


Thanks for the info.

It will be taken into consideration during the current revamp of instruments.xml for 2.0 and MusicXML 3 compatibility.

Horn is the correct nomenclature for the insturment.

There is no such thing as a "French" Horn unless your instrument happened to be made in France of course :)

In reply to by ChurchOrganist

Does it matter where your Cor Anglais is made?

Seriously, it's still referred to as French Horn in music theory books in the UK but it's always struck me that we call it French Horn when we call the English Horn "Cor Anglais". Shouldn't they be "English Horn" and "Cor Francais"?

In reply to by ChurchOrganist

You get 7 millions hits if you Google "French horn", and another 2,700,000 if you Google images of "French horn", so the phrase obviously continues to be used, whether logically or not. You could argue that calling the instrument a "French horn" doesn't necessarily imply it's from France. Terms in English have histories, after all, often contradictory and illogical. We all can come up with examples of common terms that have been changed, though that typically takes a monumental effort. Societal, political or sexual language seems to be the most common to be changed, along with terms whose names are altered through advertising -- but it takes worldwide media exposure and prominent use by famous and/or powerful people. Within the community of professional musicians "French horns" might be deprecated to just "horns", though in my estimation that would be a sad loss. French horns are noble and much loved musical instruments, while "horns" mostly imply things that honk at you.

In reply to by kentfx

You are of course perfectly at liberty to add the word French to your horn parts - simply right click the stave and choose "Stave properties".

Bear in mind, however that scores with horn parts usually have the key added so - Horn in F, Horn in Eb etc. Adding French to that would take up a lot of space, so the default will be the correct nomenclature.

In reply to by Magnus Johansson

This is complicated by the fact that Horn players tend to specialise in High Horn Parts or Low Horn Parts apparently, the extremes of the full requiring constant practice to achieve accurately and consistently.

Maybe the amateur range I have specified is a little conservative, but represents the notes the horn players would use comfortably in the Tutti.

Perhaps the OP could comment on this?

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